Oedipus The King
Old Court Theatre, Chelmsford
Friday 16th March 2012
This well known Greek tragedy by Sophocles gets an awkward re-working this week as the Theatre Workshop's latest brave step into unusual waters.
Some traditional Greek devices were kept, a Greek chorus being the most obvious, but the co-Director's decisions to incorporate brash modernisations did not always sit comfortably. A more confident interpretation may have modernised the piece in full, or may have gone the other way and delivered a fully traditional Greek tragedy, but instead of elements of both we really ended up with neither.
This confused Direction means one can forgive the cast some of their awkwardness - we are told in the programme that the company had to deal with some last minute cast changes too - and they did very well with learning the wordy Berg & Clay translation, with some enormous passages for the lead characters. However, when one character is going to be delivering such a lot of dialogue at once, more light and shade is needed to make the passages interesting. This critisism does not apply to all of the actors, with particular credit to Karen Pemberton's doubled roles of Teiresias and Messenger, and Ben Fraser's Kreon, who both used their voices well, and found interesting characters to portray within the verbose text.
A courageous choice for CTW to try, and the hard work that went into this production was evident, but it simply did not hit the mark.